William was a great reader but his writings, like his brother Jonathan’s, tended to be ungrammatical.
"You see gentlemen I am not a learned Man;
my grammar bad, my spelling the same;
yet nevertheless my God doth cause
my pen to go with a heavenly flame.”
In his latter years, throughout the 1840s, William was a very conspicuous figure on the streets of Newcastle, where he would parade continually, dressed in an eccentric and peculiar manner, hawking his various pamphlets to passers-by.
Gratified to meet you, sir;
I trust God keeps you well:
I doff my cap to you, sir;
A brass-topped tortoise shell.
In God’s armour I am dressed, sir;
I think it suits me fine:
My surcoat to the neck, sir;
My medals proudly shine.
There’s one for a gun that can shoot a whale,
One for a train on metallic rails,
One for a balance tipped by a spring,
One for a carriage fit for a king,
One from a duke and one from a queen,
One for a magnificent flying machine,
One for a High Level Bridge o’er the Tyne,
And one for the praise that should have been mine.
You’ve been kind to lend an ear, sir;
Buy this pamphlet if you please:
To keep the wolves at bay, sir;
And melt winter’s cruel freeze.
Some have judged me mockingly;
There is laughter in their eyes:
But I am genuinely honoured, sir;
For these medals tell no lies.
There’s one for curing wood of its dry rot thirst,
One to show my fan ventilator was first,
One for a prophet and critic also,
One for a poet and his natural flow,
One for canals cut with flawless ease,
And one for a unique mind, if you please;
One for putting out fires at sea,
And one for the staggering genius in me.
But does a man need medals like a jockey needs a horse,
Like a mountain needs foundations, like a river needs its course,
Like a planet needs an orbit, like a lion needs its pride,
Or does it simply signify there’s nothing left inside?
For there’s more to searching than searching alone,
More to a king than a crown or throne,
More to a dog than chasing a bone,
And more to me than these medals alone.
There’s one for the left breast, one for the right,
One for my wisdom’s guiding light,
One of silver and one of gold,
One for each philosophy told,
One for each step of progress made,
One for ideas that never made the grade,
One for the learning by which snakes shall fall,
For I am the wisest man of them all.
(Lyrics & Music: Gary Miller)
from Mad Martins,
releases March 31, 2017
Gary Miller - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Iain Petrie - Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Snare Drum
Trevor Kinsel - Trumpet
'Mad Martins' is a unique project by poet Keith Armstrong and songwriter Gary Miller featuring original songs, poetry and
spoken word narration depicting the extraordinary life and times of the notorious Martin brothers, William, Jonathan and John, who were born in the late Eighteenth Century in the South Tyne area of Northumberland....more